CarolCooks2 weekly roundup…June 13th-19th June 2021…#Pearls, Whimsy, Music, Stargazy Pie and Mealworms……


Another packed week from Carol Taylor​ in Thailand with some very exotic ingredients… ants eggs and would you eat Banana Worm Bread? If a little to rich for you, then one of the ingredients in the alternative culinary alphabet is bound to be to your taste. With a Saturday Snippets there is something for everyone.

Retired? No one told me!

Lemon Chicken, Pearls, Music, A-Z and Fathers Day…

Welcome to this week’s edition of my weekly roundup of posts…Especially for you just in case you missed a few posts during this last week…Time is marching on…It is now officially rainy season here so there will definitely be some dancing in the rain…

June…the middle of another year…today is Fathers Day  I miss my dad more as every day passes…I miss all the men who have been positive influences in my life and my children’s lives…   I am proud of all my children and the way they have forged their place in the world how they have nurtured their children to take their places in this ever-changing world…Wishing all you dads out there a “Happy Fathers Day

In case you missed any posts this week or love to catch up like I do… snuggle down in…

View original post 475 more words

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Meet the Authors 2021 -#Thriller Mark Bierman, #Fairystory Cathy Cade, #Family Alex Craigie


Over the summer I will be updating author’s details in the Cafe and Bookstore and also sharing their bios, books and recent reviews with you in this series…

Meet Mark Bierman

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.

After a short stint as a private investigator, he moved into the role of Correctional Officer, working at both Millhaven Institution and Kingston Penitentiary, until it closed.

Mark’s  debut novel – Vanished

One of the recent 5* reviews for the book

Catherine A. Hamilton, author of Victoria’s War 5.0 out of 5 stars Witness the dark secrets that are kept about human traffickers in this debut novel!  Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2021

Everyone has heard of the horrors of modern-day human trafficking. We have perhaps even conjured images in our mind when we see a child who seems to be too far ahead of his mom or dad at the park! But who knows the parent of child who has been kidnaped?

Bierman changes all this in “Vanished!”

Characters Tyler and John have both suffered recent loss, and are willing to risk life and limb to spare a Haitian woman the same pain. But why are they willing to look for a little girl who has vanished into thin air?

Well—you’ll learn why when you read this action-packed adventure novel. I’ll give you a hint, these guys believe that any child’s life is worth fighting for! No more spoilers! Except to say that the setting is the exotic Caribbean island of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake has devastated most of the island.

The island’s problems with human trafficking started long before the coming of the earthquake. An attitude of tolerance toward the problem shocks the protagonist, his friends – and the reader.

So, when Tyler and John face the evils of human trafficking head on, I was right there with them. This is a heart-stopping read that brings to life the horror of modern-day slavery, and the sad truths about any nation willing to look the other way. Is this a problem that is unsurmountable? Will Tyler and John give up? And to what lengths will these men and their unlikely “friend” go to save one little girl?

Witness the dark secrets that are kept about human traffickers in this debut novel!

Rich in detail! Riveting! I recommend it to lovers of action adventure fiction that sheds light on real-life criminals, especially those who traffic children.  

50% of the proceeds from Vanished go to an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon USAnd : Amazon UKFollow Mark: Goodreads – Blog: Mark Bierman WordPressTwitter: @mbiermanauthor

Meet Cathy Cade

Following a career in libraries Cathy began writing in retirement. Her writing has been published in ‘Scribble’, ‘Best of British’, ‘Flash Fiction Magazine’, ‘Tales From the Forest’, and ‘To Hull and Back Short Story Anthology 2018′. Her stories and rhymes also appear in the Whittlesey Wordsmiths’ anthologies ‘Where the Wild Winds Blow’ and ‘A Following Wind’ (also available from Amazon).

A novella, ‘The Pond People’, has been serialised on her blog at cathy-cade.com, where you will also find occasional short stories, flash fiction and verse.

Cathy lives with her husband and dogs, mostly in the Cambridgeshire Fens and sometimes in the shadow of London’s Epping Forest.

Books by Cathy Cade

A recent review for The Godmother

A modern Cinderella story with a cute adorable dog.
You may know Cinderella but do read The Godmother, it is way better!
Very entertaining! 

Read the reviews and buy the books : Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Cathy: Goodreads Website: Cathy CadeFacebook: Cathy Cade Wordsmith.

Meet Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Trish has had two books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Both books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the NHS at its heart.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.

Books by Alex Craigie

A recent review for Someone Close to Home

Pete Springer 5.0 out of 5 stars A page turner from start to finish  Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2021

Someone Close to Home is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. The story is told through Megan, who alternates between the young classical pianist to her disturbing time in a care facility. While the story is fiction, I found myself comparing Megan’s experiences with those of my mother.

Megan and her neighbor, Gideon, form a special friendship that blooms into a love story. Unfortunately, Megan’s mother is controlling and manipulative. Her dream is for her daughter to marry the playboy actor, Jordan. He tries to convince Megan he is in love with her, but the attraction seems to be based mostly because he is used to having women throw themselves at him.

If readers like villainous characters, this book has plenty. Some of the workers in the care home abuse the residents. There are moments where I was furious that the owner of the facility was far more concerned with profits and reputation rather than carrying for the residents most basic needs. About the only thing that I found challenging at times was trying to keep track of all of the characters as there are many caregivers and residents. I still have to rate the story five stars because the writing is excellent and the plot moves along at a steady pace. I know after finishing this book that this will not be the last book by Alex Craigie I will read.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Follow Alex: Goodreads – Alex Craigie via: Facebook

 

Thanks for dropping by today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. Thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Short stories Rewind – What’s in a Name? Volume One – Clive – The Debt by Sally Cronin


There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

Clive – The Debt

The boy stirred in his cot and waved his chubby fist in the air. The mid-afternoon sun was barred from his room by the rattan blinds at the window. The slowly moving blades of the fan above his cot sent a welcome and cooling breeze across his hot skin. The rest of the house was quiet, except for the gentle snoring of his amah as she dozed fitfully on the pallet on the other side of the room.

The boy was called Clive and was the fourth child and first son of a naval officer and his wife who were stationed here in Trincomalee. He was three years old and his curly blonde hair now lay slick against his scalp as he recovered from the fever. It had been a worrying few days with the doctor calling in every few hours to check on his condition. The household, including his three older sisters and his parents, were exhausted having had little sleep for the last few nights.

Measles in this climate could be very dangerous for a child Clive’s age and he had been restricted to his cot in the darkened room to prevent the risk of blindness. Thankfully his fever had now broken, and the family having enjoyed their Sunday curry lunch, had retired to their bedrooms to sleep the afternoon away beneath their ceiling fans.

Clive had been woken every hour or so to sip his favourite fruit juice and water from his beaker and the doctor was now happy he was past his crisis. But, the child was now hungry and the lingering smell of the chicken curry that the family had consumed at lunchtime drifted into the room.

Relieved that her charge was out of danger but extremely tired, his devoted amah had failed to latch the side of Clive’s cot securely. Seeing that there was a means of escape; he lifted his body up into a sitting position and swung his bare legs over the side of the mattress. It was easy enough to slide down onto the stone floor with its fibre matting where he held onto the side of the cot for a few minutes; his legs wobbling beneath him. But he was a strong little boy who spent hours on his tricycle and swam most days and this was evident in his recovery from this recent illness. Of course his growing hunger was a great motivator.

Carefully he moved across the matting intent on seeing if his friend the family cook had a special plate of his favourite mild curry and banana. He moved into the hall but was disappointed that the door to the kitchen was firmly closed and the handle was out of reach of his eager fingers.

The door to the long veranda however was much easier to open and Clive pushed his way through into the stifling heat and the raucous sound of the monkeys in the trees in the garden. He loved the little macaques and often sat on the veranda in the cooler mornings and watched them play fight over the ripened fruit. He drifted across the wooden floor and down the two steps onto the dusty path. He was now in uncharted territory.

There were many dangers for humans in these luscious surroundings. Clive was accompanied everywhere by his amah or his sisters when out of sight of his protective mother. Several times he had been scooped up and rushed indoors accompanied by shrieks and calls for the houseboy to bring a stick.

Cobras were common; as were the larger less playful monkeys that could be as big as dog. The first lesson that Clive had received after he had taken his first steps, was not to touch anything with fur, as rabies ravaged both the wild creatures and domesticated dogs.

With the fearlessness of a three year old, he toddled down the dry dusty path until he reached a line of ants that were busy carrying leaves several times the size of their bodies across the dry earth. Fascinated Clive sat down on the ground and followed their progress with one little plump finger.

Eyes were watching him from various vantage points in the overgrown garden. The small macaques ceased their play fights and spotted that the door to the house had been left ajar. This was as good as an invitation and a dozen of the petty thieves scampered down their favourite tree and darted along the edge of the dry lawn and through the bushes beneath the veranda. In seconds they were through the open door looking for food and mischief.

In the branches of a tall evergreen, a large male langur watched his smaller cousins disappear and waited to see if they would emerge with anything worth stealing from them. He had more sense than to risk the wrath of a house boy armed with a broom. Then something else caught his eye in the bushes to the side of the lawn. He stared for several moments trying to find the cause of his disquiet. His attention was then drawn to the chortling of the child as he played in the dry dust with the ants.

Something was wrong and the langur’s instincts caused him to move cautiously to the end of the branch that stretched out over the lawn. There was the movement again and this time he saw the hooded head standing tall surrounded by the red blossoms of the rose bush. Slowly the cobra slithered from its hiding place and moved gracefully across the bleached grass towards the oblivious child.

Clive became bored with watching the ants and his hunger reminded him that the cook might be in the kitchen. If so, then his favourite sweet treats that were slipped to him occasionally behind his mother’s back, might be on offer. Placing his hands firmly in front of him he pushed his bottom into the air and then stood unsteadily for a moment. A movement in the corner of his eye made him turn his head and he found himself just feet away from the swaying hood of the cobra. Without someone to sweep him up into safe arms and rush him inside the house he was minutes away from certain death.

In those precious seconds as the boy and snake stared at each other there was a sudden and violent interruption. The large langur launched himself from the branch of the tree landing a few feet from them. Without a moment’s hesitation the monkey raced across and grabbed the tail end of the cobra. With one sweep of his powerful arm he swung the snake around towards the bushes several feet away and let it go.

For one moment the child and the monkey looked into each other’s eyes and Clive raised his hand as if he understood that his saviour meant him no harm.

At that moment shrieks and angry shouts erupted from the open door to the house and the troop of macaques raced out with their trophies of chapatti and trifle filling their hands. Behind them with an agility that belied his age was the irate cook wielding a large kitchen knife. Under cover of the confusion the langur headed rapidly to his tree to resume his watch.

The cook seeing Clive still standing on the path called out for his amah to come quickly and within moments the child was safe in loving arms and being hugged and kissed.

Soon the whole family congregated on the veranda and reviewed the damages to house and the theft of the left overs with a welcome pot of tea. None the wiser about their youngest child’s close encounter with nature, they watched as Clive ate a bowl of home-made ice-cream.

Present Day.

The tall silver haired man drove up and parked at the back of the large manufacturing plant. He got out and opened the back of the van and approached the double steel doors and rang the bell to the side of them. A disjointed voice requested his name and after a moment the buzzer indicated that the door was open.

Inside in the dim cool the man walked up to a reception desk and was taken through to a holding area where six large wooden crates were waiting. Having lifted the lids of the boxes and checked contents, the man signed numerous pieces of paper. Two burly porters helped carry the crates out to the van where they were carefully placed and secured for the journey.

Four hours later the van arrived at a location deep in the countryside and having called ahead, several people stood clustered around the open security gates. Clive sighed with relief and drove through and backed the van close into a large wooden building.

The contents of the van were unloaded and the crates carefully carried inside. The markings were clear in the dim light from the outside lights at the entrance.

Contrux Pharmaceuticals.

Clive and his team gently lifted the sleeping occupants of the boxes out and placed them in individual stalls lined with straw and soft bedding. They would be carefully watched by them in turns for the next few days around the clock. They would be fed and given water as well as checked out by the resident vet. It would take weeks, if not months, to rehabilitate these primates who had been born within a laboratory environment. However, with love and care; one day they would be enjoying their new and natural habitat.

As Clive laid the final animal in its bed of straw the chimpanzee stirred and for a moment he and the man looked into each other’s eyes. A flash of understanding passed between them and slowly the monkey’s eyelids closed as he was laid gently onto a welcoming blanket.

A child and his destiny had now come full circle and his debt would continue to be repaid as long as he lived.

©Sally Cronin 2017

One of the reviews for the collection.

Jul 29, 2017 Robbie Cheadle rated it Five Stars

What’s in a name? is a collection of short stories, each about a different person with a name starting with a specific letter of the alphabet. This first book of two covers the letters A to J with each letter having two stories, one about a male character and one about a female character. The stories are all different and unique and Sally writes in the most beautiful and fluid manner so that you feel completely absorbed by the specific character and the life situation they are dealing with. I read some of the stories to my sons, Gregory and Michael, but others I read to myself as they were a bit adult in content for Michael, who is only eleven years old.

Two of my favourite stories in this collection are as follows:

1.Grace – A heart warming story about a five year old orphan who has lived in an orphanage all her life. Grace has had a companion and best friend, Hope, ever since she can remember and together they are able to face the rigid and strict life in the orphanage. The girls are not mistreated in any way but they rely on each other for love and support in a situation where they have no families of their own. Grace is heart broken when Hope is adopted and goes away to live with her new family. What will happen to Grace and Hope now?

2.Celia – This is a tale about a woman who has spent the last twenty years of her life in a convent. Her life has been very austere but she has been happy until now. Celia is named after her grandmother’s much loved older sister who had lived in this same convent for sixty years after entering the order at the age of fourteen years old. Her namesake had become the Mother Superior of the convent and had been happy and fulfilled in her chosen life. What about Celia though? She wants to leave the convent and strike out on her own again but after twenty years but can she find the strength do it? Who will she turn too?

You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: :Sally’s books and reviews

I hope you will join me next Sunday for the next story in the collection… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – June 13th -19th 2021 – The Doors, Backache, House Training, Author PR, Reviews and Funnies


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week.

Reasonably quiet here in our part of Ireland with some great sunshine during the week that prompted time in the garden reading and I have eased the strain on my TBR.. reviews to follow.

I had my first hair cut in a week on Monday after a year of home cuts. What bliss to walk out afterwards having had a good catch up with my hairdresser Sam and her family, a moan about the weather and the state of the world and a short but delightfully shaped hairstyle. I am hoping that unlike the last time I went to have a hair cut last year, they will still be open in six weeks for another trim!

I have been out and about this week but this time it was a lovely surprise feature by author Harmony Kent. A very thoughtful and kind gesture.

It would be lovely if you could head over for a peek: Harmony Kent and Sally 

On with the show…

My thanks to William Price King, D.G. Kaye and Malcolm Allen for their amazing contributions during the week.. and to you for all your support and encouraging comments.. as always very much appreciated.

Chart Hits 1971 Part Two – Bill Withers, George Harrison, The Doors, Aretha Franklin 

Celia – A Crisis of Faith 

Chapter Six – Trouble in Paradise – Part Two 

#DoubleEtheree – Night Creatures

Part Three – Hitting the Red Carpet 

#Scottish #Historical – Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair 

Book Reviews Rewind – #Family – The Sum of our Sorrows by Lisette Brodey 

Book Reviews Rewind – #Paranormal #Mystery – This Second Chance by D.L. Finn 

House training – reward not punishment for you or your dog

Family Health – Backache

Tuesday June 15th 2021 – #Fallacy Jim Borden, #Runes Jan Sikes, #LemonChicken Carol Taylor, #Guest Harmony Kent 

Wednesday 16 June 2021 – #Writertips D.G. Kaye, #Shakespeare Paula R. C. Readman, #Bookbub/Offer Jacquie Biggar

Thursday 17th June 2021 – #IndieAuthors Timothy Pike, #BloggingTips Hugh Roberts, #Chocolate Eat Dessert First Greece 

#History Mike Biles, #Romance Ritu Bhathal, #Journal #Memoir Jaye Marie 

#poetry Annette Rochelle Aben, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls, #Fantasy Adele Marie Park. 

#Thriller Carol Balawyder, #Scifi Sandra J. Jackson,#Fantasy Deborah Jay. 

-#Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher, #Paranormal #Mystery Marcia Meara, #Dystopian Terry Tyler 

#Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, #Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Poetry Frank Prem

New books on the shelves – Let’s Move and Wombat Digs In by Norah Colvin

#SciFi #SpaceOpera – Inside Out by Thorne Moore 

Pre-Order – #Western #Romance Keeper Tyree by S. Cox 

#Suspense #Thriller Cold Dark Night: Legends of Madeira by Joan Hall 

#Western #Folklore Staci Troilo, #Shortstories Sian Turner, #Western #TimeTravel Sandra Cox 

June 15th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Car sales and Divorce negotiations 

June 17th 2021 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Posing and Lightbulbs

June 18th 2021 – Malcolm Allen – Book Groups and Bank Heists 

 

Thanks very much for dropping in today and all your support.. I hope you will join me again next week.. Sally

 

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Scottish #Historical – Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair


This week I have enjoyed reading the historical novel Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair.

About the book

Elizabeth craves adventure… excitement… love…

For now though, she has to settle for a trip from her family’s castle, to the port in Aberdeen, where her father has promised she’ll be permitted to buy a horse… all of her own.

Little does she suspect this simple journey will change her life, forever. And as she dreams of riding her new mount through the forests and glens of the Manteith estate, she can have no idea that she might never see them again.

For what lies ahead is danger, unimagined… and the fearful realities of kidnap and slavery.

But even when everything seems lost, most especially the chance of ever getting home again, Elizabeth finds friendship, comfort… and that much prized love, just where she least expected it.

Set in the mid eighteenth century, Fireflies and Chocolate is a story of strength, courage and tolerance, in a time filled with far too many prejudices.

Head over to buy at the pre-order price: Amazon UK – And:Amazon US

My review for the book 19th June 2021

As the author explains in her notes, this story is based on actual events that took place in Scotland in the 1740s, when six hundred children and young people were kidnapped from Aberdeen and sold into indentured servitude in the American colonies. Although there are accounts of this devastating event, they are mainly from the male perspective and the author created her central character Elizabeth to redress the balance.

Sinclair has done an excellent job of merging fact and fiction with wonderful characters, some based on real people of the day. Those who survived the crowded and dangerous crossing, were sold to the highest bidder to use as they saw fit for the years of their indenture. At that time slavery was still embedded in the culture, and the indentured servants worked side by side, often in appalling and cruel conditions.

Elizabeth comes from a privileged background but it is a time of conflict with the English and like many Scottish noble families times are hard. However, nothing could prepare her for voyage that broke the spirits of many, and the horror of being sold into an uncertain future.

We follow her adventures as she meets those who are on the run from the harsh treatment on the plantations, and those with a more enlightened attitude to the slavery and the use of indentured servants. Her bravery in the face of the treatment to those she now works side by side with, wins hearts and also endangers her life and those she loves.

This book is well researched, bringing history to life and the writing flows smoothly like hot chocolate as it warms on a cold day. It is a coming of age and love story which will have you holding your breath on occasion as Elizabeth comes to terms with her future.

I can highly recommend the book to those who enjoy well researched and compelling historical novels.

Also by Ailish Sinclair

Read the other reviews and buy the books:Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Other reviews :Goodreads – Website:Ailish Sinclair – Twitter: @AilishSinclair – Facebook: Ailish Sinclair Author – LinkedIn: Ailish Sinclair

About Ailish Sinclair

Ailish Sinclair trained as a dancer and taught dance for many years, before working in schools to help children with special needs. A short stint as a housekeeper in a castle fired her already keen interest in untold stories of the past and she sat down to research and write.

She now lives beside a loch with her husband and two children where she still dances and writes and eats rather a lot of chocolate.

 

Thanks for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the news of Ailish’s new book … thank you Sally

 

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Tales from the Spanish Garden – Chapter Six – Trouble in Paradise – Part Two by Sally Cronin


This is the prequel to Tales from the Irish garden and shares the stories of statues we inherited when we bought the house, and for the magic kingdom beneath the Magnolia Tree. The book is also available in Spanish translated by
Olga Nunez Miret

Chapter Six – Trouble in Paradise – Part Two (you can read Part One Here)

The dwarf was mortified and hung his head trying to hide his thoughts from his queen who he could see was dreadfully upset. He also knew that he had been in the forbidden part of the garden and should not have seen the two lovers in the first place. But he had lost his rabbit and knew that he often entered the patch of magic ivy to eat its luscious green shoots.

The queen waved him away before he saw the tears that filled her eyes…but as he turned to go she demanded that he tell no-one of what he had seen on pain of being expelled from the orchestra.

She knew that this was probably futile and over the next few hours it was clear that the story, or a version of it, was circulating amongst the fairy community and the rest of the garden inhabitants.

Life beneath the magnolia tree was usually peaceful and undisturbed and to be honest a little monotonous. This revelation about the highest family in the land was too good to keep a secret; even for those she trusted most to do so.

Her power as ruler of this invisible kingdom was in jeopardy, and if she was to maintain her status and dignity action needed to be taken. Not just to punish the king for his actions, which under fairy law meant instant banishment to the human world, but to the woman in his embrace.

The queen knew who she was. The lady-in-waiting that the king had unwisely danced twice with at the summer ball. As a member of the court and daughter of one of the royal counsellors, this floozy knew exactly what the consequences were for flirting with a married man and particularly with the king himself.

There was only one course of action and it had to be taken quickly. The queen called her trusted advisors together in the council chamber in a clearing beneath the magnolia tree. Apart from fairies she also sent out messengers to find the wisest creature in the entire garden.

Felis silvestris catus was descended from the royal cats of ancient Egypt and had wandered into this garden in Spain many years ago. He said little but when he did speak it was always profound and the words valuable.

The palace guard had led the king to an ante-chamber where he waited head in hands to discover his fate. He had tried to speak to his queen but had been held back by her soldiers and he knew that his life here in this world was at an end.

The discussions continued through the night and into the next day. Angry voices could be heard and also desperate pleading by the father of the lady-in-waiting, who was terrified of losing his daughter for good.

Eventually the doors to the council chamber were flung opened and the king was led through to face his fate.

White faced and visibly shaking the queen pronounced the sentence that would be carried out immediately. She faced the king and made him kneel at her feet. She looked down at his bowed head and sorrowfully delivered the judgement.

You will be banished to the human world to live in another garden far away. You will be turned to stone, in the form of a one-eyed pig. You will then live beneath a wide-limbed evergreen tree that is home to many pigeons.’

The king raised his head and stared at his wife in disbelief but she returned his look coldly.

‘In addition, you will be guarded by one of my most trusted ladies of the bed chamber, who will be transformed into a black dog so that she can live in comfort in the home of the humans. She will report back to me should you decide to use your own magic powers to change your form.’

The queen smiled grimly. ‘Do not imagine you will be able to put anything past the Lady Ellie as she is keen of mind as well as a rare beauty.’

The king ventured to speak and begrudgingly the queen indicated that he could stand and address the court one last time.

‘I am deeply sorry for my actions, but I truly love the Lady Oleander and would beg that you do not punish her for my unseemly actions.’ He looked at his wife with his hands held out towards her.

‘Her punishment has been carried out and you can no longer help her.’

The harsh words drew a sharp breath from the king.

‘She was found waiting for you in the secret garden beneath the clock and has been frozen in time where she will now wait for you forever.’

Many years passed and the fairy world slowly recovered from the loss of their carefree king and moved on with their lives in the heat and cold of the changing seasons within the garden.

Eventually the queen found love again with a dashing prince who was visiting from another fairy court many miles distant. As she basked in the new love, and after discussing the matter with her handsome young husband, she came to a decision.

Far, far away in the human world the one-eyed pig sat silently beneath the pigeon filled tree, becoming increasingly more decorated with their offerings. He was watched over daily by the Lady Ellie who herself had become a little bored with her restrictive life as a guard dog.

Then one day messengers arrived from the fairy kingdom having flown for three nights and three days. The swans had acted as protectors for the tiny robin who had been sent with a message for the Lady Ellie. Now as the misty early morning sunlight filled the garden, the red-breasted bird delivered the royal decree.

The king was to be released from his stone curse but could not return to the fairy kingdom. He would now have to live as a mortal man with a human lifespan. Since the queen was now happily in love again herself and had no wish for the king to remain alone, she would also release the Lady Oleander from her vigil beneath the clock.

The Lady Ellie cast the necessary spells and some days later a tall, good looking man was seen waiting patiently at a railway station with a suitcase at his feet. After all the years of living beneath the pigeons in the tree, it was a great relief to actually have two of them pecking away at crumbs at his feet instead.

Suddenly, he noticed a beautiful young woman with flowing blonde hair walking towards him along the platform. As he heard the sound of the steam engine travelling slowly into the station, the lovely vision stopped in front of him. She smiled and reached out a hand and he swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately.

A world away beneath the magnolia tree someone else was watching the scene. The queen opened her eyes and smiled. She could now live happily ever after. Even if it was just for a brief human lifespan, her old love would now be happy too with his Lady Oleander.

©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015

About Tales from the Garden

Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here. Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.

One of the reviews for the collection.

Robbie Cheadle 5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling book Reviewed in the United States on May 1, 2021

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – June 18th 2021 – Malcolm Allen – Book Groups and Bank Heists


Author Malcolm Allen is back with some more funnies and a novel way to tell time…            Thanks to Malcolm for keeping us entertained…more from him soon

     

Malcolm Allen’s latest book is now available in Kindle

About the book

This is the third book by the author, following publication of his two autobiographies ‘From Birth to Perth – Memoirs of a Nomad’ in August 2013 and ‘World Turned Upside Down – More Nomadic Memoirs’ published in June 2018. This third book in the nomadic series, is a travelogue of the author’s journeys around the world. He shares both his travel experiences and his views on various subjects, with his usual frankness and humour. It’s a tale of the traveller as he moves by air, land and sea with assorted companions. The world of travel has changed the lives of many and continues to delight and surprise the author each time he packs his luggage and passport. As a fellow author, Michael Palin so eloquently said: ‘Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote. I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.’

One of the recent reviews for the book

Mr. Ian M. Smith 5.0 out of 5 stars A Nomad who really Entertains Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 January 2021

The author has already written his autobiography in two volumes and that is quite a story. He is much travelled and, in this new book, he gives us the benefit of his travels in a novel way. Instead of using a chronological framework, Allen uses an alphabetical format interposing memories of places he’s visited with a miscellany of anecdotes that keep you entertained.

There is plenty of humour and I’ve given the book five stars because of its readability. It’s a winning combination of real world travelogue that puts you right there with the author, and anecdotal humour that will make you chuckle (as well as groan at some of the quips). The result is a book that you will not want to put down. If you enjoy Bill Bryson, you will enjoy Malcolm Allen. He has taken a novel approach to non-fiction that is both entertaining and highly amusing. I now feel that I’ve really been to some of the places that I’ll never get to in person and that must be the highest accolade for a book that is much more than a travelogue.

Buy the book: Amazon US And:Amazon UK – And: Amazon AU

About Malcolm Allen

The author was born in London UK and experienced a challenging childhood, leaving school with no academic qualifications at the age of 15. He had mixed fortunes in his early working days but managed to secure a job in the banking industry at the age of 19. During a period of 32 years he enjoyed a demanding and successful career in London, the pinnacle of which was becoming a Company Director at the age of 37. Following a life changing experience in November 1998 he emigrated to Perth, Western Australia in September 2001, relocating to his current home in Melbourne, Australia in November 2015.

Thanks for dropping in today and I know Malcolm would love your feedback.. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Book Reviews Rewind – #Paranormal #Mystery – This Second Chance by D.L. Finn


I will now be sharing the reviews from the first few months of 2021. The focus tends to be on new releases but good books deserve to be in the spotlight too on a regular basis.

This is my review from January 2021 for This Second Chance.. a paranormal mystery by D.L. Finn

About the book

Newly married Rachael Battaglia finally had it all. The only detail that stained Rachael’s perfect wedding was a gift she received. It was the exact present that her late ex-husband had given her on their wedding day — a snow globe. That marriage was not what she had envisioned, and she endured years of his abuse and charm until one night she escaped with two kids and one on the way. Now Rachael was headed to Hawaii with an amazing man and her chance at happiness. Unbeknownst to Rachael, she had an Angel on her side, although this Angel might not be able to save Rachael and her family from the evil that surrounded them. This is a tale of love, past relationships, things unseen, and redemption. Will Rachael find her happy ending, or will this evil thing get its way?

My review for the book 16th January 2021

This story is about good and evil and how it lives side by side within individuals, with the choices we make, the only barrier between them. We all like to believe in second chances, but not everyone deserves them. However after suffering an abusive marriage, Rachael and her children are now being offered a new life with a wonderful man who would move heaven and earth to ensure their happiness.

When an evil spirit is also moving heaven and earth in search of revenge, it is a fight for survival for this new family and those they love. It will need the power of redemption and forgiveness, and a helping hand from a higher power to overcome the dangerous entity hunting them.

The past is entangled in the present, and unraveling the mystery of why the family has been targeted moves at breakneck speed towards the explosive climax.

The author has done an excellent job creating the two worlds inhabited by the characters who are bound to each other in desperation and in hope. There are elements of a number of genres including romance, paranormal and thriller and it is action packed from start to finish. A recommended read.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by D.L. Finn

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow D.L. Finn: Goodreads – Connect to D.L. Finn – Website: D.L. Finn Author – Facebook: D.L. Finn Author – Twitter: @dlfinnauthor

About D.L. Finn

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

 

Thanks for dropping in and I hope you will head over to check out Denise’s other books.. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Author on the Shelves – #SciFi #SpaceOpera – Inside Out by Thorne Moore


Delighted to welcome Thorne Moore to the Cafe and Bookstore with her books. Today I am featuring her recent release, the science fiction space opera Inside Out.

About the book

Triton station, Outer Circles headquarters of Ragnox Inc, on the moon of Neptune, is as far as the intrepid can go. It’s a place to make money, lots of money, and for seven lucky travellers, bound for Triton on the ISF Heloise, that’s exactly what they intend to do.

Maggy Jole wants to belong. Peter Selden wants to escape. Abigail Dieterman wants to be free. Merrit Burnand wants to start again. Christie Steen wants to forget. No one knows what David Rabiotti wants. And Smith, well, Smith wants everything.

Does it really matter what they want? The journey to Triton will take them eleven months – eleven months to contemplate the future, come to terms with the small print of their contracts, and wish they’d never signed. But changing their minds is not an option.

Sometimes it really is better to travel… than arrive.

One of the recent reviews for the book

For many years I have admired Thorne Moore’s work. She has written in various genres but, threaded through all, there is always a psychological mystery: a need to know why her characters have acted in a certain way, what were the circumstances that “upset the applecart”, as I like to think of it. The mystery may have parallel themes of crime, or the introduction of historical or contemporary, events, or the exploration of relationships, but there is always the psychological ‘why’ lurking. I think this is one reason I have always been gripped by her stories and the intricate ways they move along.

And this smooth progression of the plot is often reinforced by the background of the novel, whether it’s of the countryside and life at a certain era, an old house that’s been lived in by generation, or myths and legends. And, as an added extra, to give atmosphere and emotion to these settings, there are always short evocative descriptions of the weather to reflect the mood of the scene. Wonderful!

So, I have to admit, I was surprised and not a little perturbed to hear she has delved into writing Science Fiction. After all, one of this author’s greatest qualities is her innate ability to bring setting to life, by just a line or two of description that instantly evokes a sense of place and an immediacy to the background that her characters move around in.
I mean, a spaceship in Outer Space! No weather, no interesting ‘moving around settings’ for the characters, no historic background, no real characters (Maybe ET-Type aliens?).

Yes, yes, I know; I have little knowledge of the Sci-Fi genre. Which I was to learn. Very quickly.

It is at this point I always say that I don’t give away spoilers.

But what I will say is that Inside Out is not just science fiction, it is a story that includes all that I admire of Thorne Moore’s writing..

There is mystery and intrigue. Excellent individual dialogue from the brilliantly rounded main characters, all with their own back stories and reasons for being on what initially seems to be a luxurious cruise liner for rich, middle-class passengers. (I say “luxurious” but there is a ‘wait and see’ moment – and that’s all I will say about that). Together, with a cast of minor characters as foil to the main ones, there is crime, danger, adventure, humour, and even a little romance. And … there are brilliant settings: of the layers and decks of the ship, of the various planets that the ISF Heloise docks at, and of a chilling description of outer space. And, then, ultimately, we land on Triton, the destination of the group of main characters, where we are made aware of the truth of life with Ragnox Inc.

Just here, I was very tempted to write, Dum De Dum Dum Dah here, but I won’t.

All I will say, is that Inside Out is a novel I thoroughly enjoyed and one I would recommend to any readers who enjoys character-led stories – whatever the genre

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK –  And: Amazon US

A selection of books by Thorne Moore

Read the reviews and buy the books –  Amazon UK –  Amazon US  –
UniversalGoodreadsWebsite/BlogThorne Moore  – FacebookThorne Moore Novelist  – Twitter@ThorneMoore 

About Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore grew up in Luton and studied history at Aberystwyth. Nine years later, after a spell working in a library, she returned to Wales, to north Pembrokeshire, to run a restaurant with her sister, and a craft business making miniature furniture. She took a law degree through the Open University, and occasionally taught genealogy, but these days, she writes, as she had always intended, after retiring from 40 years of craft work. She has had four novels published by Honno and two by Lume, all psychological crime mysteries and three of them historical and she is now writing science fiction.

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… thanks Sally.